Top five customer service trends of 2016

Spoken | August 9, 2016

video chatEven though we are a technology company, pretty much everything we do here focuses on one thing: improving customer service and the customer experience. The products and services Spoken creates enable the customer service departments, in a wide variety of industries, to do their jobs and provide a high level of customer satisfaction to their clients. Needless to say, (but we’ll say it anyway) we tend to watch the trends that impact this industry VERY CAREFULLY!

A recent article detailing customer service trends caught our eye. Not only does this article offer some interesting insights into today’s customer, but it also details some very specific trends that will impact the customer service industry going forward.

First, let’s talk a little about today’s customer and how they have a major role in shaping how customer service is done. Customers today tend to be very savvy and well informed. With a simple “click” on a tablet or smartphone, a customer literally has a wealth of information about the product itself as well as access to dozens or hundreds of customer reviews.

Online customer reviews have been the key factor in upending the business to customer relationship. Why? Because they’re right there for all to see! By reading online reviews, customers can see how problems are handled and whether or not the business truly does value their customers by seeing to it that they’re satisfied especially if there has been a problem. Online reviews as well as social media platforms have forced a transparency in the business world that didn’t exist even ten years ago, and this has had a HUGE impact on customer service. Basically, if a business is not tracking brand mentions online and engaging in conversations via social media–well, as we used to say in the days of The Cluetrain Manifesto, “the conversation is happening out there, with or without you.”

Customer service trends in 2016

But aside from understanding that markets are conversations, 2016 has brought a plethora of new trends to the customer service space.

  1. Quicker responses: Customers who complain on Twitter expect a response within 60 minutes. A recent study showed that customer expectations of email response time has sped from four hours in 2014 to just one hour in 2015. It’s no longer acceptable to deliver a response in 24 or 48 hours. And what about on weekends? It may be time to review and refresh your response rate policies.

  2. Video chat:
    This is a new and innovative technology that is beginning to emerge and can be seen on popular tablets. Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX, for example, feature the Mayday button, which allows a customer to connect with an agent within 10 seconds via a one-way video chat. And medical video chats are becoming all the rage; even insurance companies are covering these effective, low-cost service calls. Other companies are beginning to hop on the band wagon with their own versions of this; expect this technology to become much more common in the future.
  3. Making self-service easier: Zendesk reported that 91% of customers said they would happily self-serve using an FAQ database rather than contacting customer service directly. Making your FAQ section more robust and easy to navigate will become increasingly more important moving forward. Businesses can beef up this section simply by mining the interactions between the customer and the agents.
  4. Connecting with customers on every channel: In the 2015 Call Center Report, one key conclusion we discovered is that customers each have a preferred channel, and it’s fruitless to try to drive them to another channel that isn’t their preference. Customers want a variety of options when it comes to communicating with a business, so be sure you have phone, e-mail, live chat, text and social media covered.
  5. Rewarding success: Building a company culture of care and going the extra mile will foster a customer service department that is committed to customer satisfaction. Happy employees make the best customer service agents, so invest in team building and employee appreciation events to ensure the best team possible.

The 2015 Call Center Report: Telephone wins and IVR loses

What trends do you see as we move through 2016 and into 2017?


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